With only five weeks to the day of our performance at the New Perspectives on Learning in the Downtown Eastside: A Community-University Conference our club has moved on to active rehearsals. So today everyone was busy projecting and enunciating.
Tong-twisters are a great way to warm up the muscles and prepare for the long recitals.
To make sure that the actors are heard across the room, we did some projection exercises. This is a great activity for any ESL class, because it helps learners to overcome shyness and encourages them to speak louder and more clearly. To do a projection exercise, choose a shorter tong-twister to start. Try Stupid superstition! it has emotion, some sass and it is also conveniently short. Then, ask the learners to stand facing the wall and practice speaking into the wall. At this stage they need to get comfortable with the text and feel how the sound travels through space. Matt called this stage “bouncing the words off the wall”. After the learners get comfortable, the next step is to ask them to imagine there is a person on the other side of the wall who needs to hear the tong-twister. So practice, practice, practice.
Interesting thing, once we finished the projection exercise, we all continued speaking as if we were still talking to the wall. So it really works, give it a try!
Look Matt getting ready for the first big rehearsal and blocking exercises in the Drama Club! Last week we assigned the roles to the learners and taught them vocabulary relating to the ten parts of the stage. All to prepare them for today.
Blocking exercises allow learners to transition from reading the script to being on the stage. We don’t have a stage, but since we will be performing in a classroom, we outlined the floor and made it look like a stage.
Through actors’ moving across the classroom, their characters leave the pages of the script and come to life. It is very important to add movement to any lesson for many reasons, but for our club blocking has served two purposes. First, it is helping the learners to break away from being overly attached to the pages. Second, it will encourage them to memorize the scripts faster. The idea of memorizing the play and performing it in front of an audience might be intimidating, so we are trying to set up all our activities to ensure that the learners are confident on the big day of the performance.
Another thing that Matt asked the learners to do was to read their character’s lines at home and imagine what these characters would look like: what would they be wearing, what props they would need, what emotions they would be feeling. This, we hope, will help learners be more comfortable with their roles since they will have the lead in bringing their characters to life.
In order to make the text of the play more accessible, we encourage the learners to highlight the words that seem difficult and find synonyms that they find easier to read. We are currently on the fourth version of the play and I have a feeling it will be evolving until the day of the performance. We are fine with seeing this play as a living text, because not only it will help the learners to feel more comfortable, but it also develops their reading skills and builds their vocabulary. As a language teacher, I am excited about this outcome of the Drama Club!
Next week we will continue rehearsals, hopefully with costumes this time!